Roast rib of beef with all the trimmings, Yorkshire puddings and the perfect gravy. It’s not just for Christmas, but on the 25th December you could do worse than this.
Whenever I have a proper roast beef with all the trimmings, puddings, potatoes, the full Monty, I always think this surely defies all the naysayers who claim ‘British cuisine’ is an oxymoron and food is the pits in the UK. Clearly they’ve never tried top notch Sunday roast and beef in particular.
What a glorious thing. Perfect invention for a Sunday, to stick a quarter of a cow in the oven and forget about it for the time it takes to get to church and back or play a stint of Call of Duty upstairs.
It should be sizeable to feed whoever turns up for lunch, and the larger it is, the tastier.
Which cut of beef for the best roast?
Topside is a nice cut which will cook evenly throughout; it might sometimes be a little dry if the beef isn’t very marbled.
Sirloin is a lot of people’s favourite, but I’ll have rib on the bone any time.
If you have a lot of gobs to feed you might want to try the rib on a standing bone – the flavour of beef cooked on the bone is incomparable. That also would always be my choice for Christmas dinner.
It is stunningly good, especially those bits on the bone that get left behind in the kitchen and are exclusively the chef’s bonus.
How to cook the perfect beef roast?
It is all in the timing. Obviously the quality of meat matters: sometimes you just unluckily are roasting a tough old hide. But the fifteen minutes per pound of weight mantra has never let me down.
Unless your joint is very small in which case it’s ten, sear it in the hottest oven for twenty minutes. Then turn the temperature right down and follow the mantra. That’s for medium rare; for medium make it twenty minutes per pound; and well done is a crime against good beef.
The beauty of rib of beef is that it cooks differently in different places. The centre will be decidedly pink and the outside skirt cooked more, which makes for variety and satisfaction of different preferences.
No roast without gravy
It is an odd thing if you think about it: would we season the potato water and serve the spuds dunked in it? And yet that’s what we do with roast meat and can’t get enough.
Incidentally, that potato water can go into gravy instead to thicken it.
My secret is redcurrant jelly and whisking it for ever on the roasting tray placed on the hob. That way all the tasty bits will be dislodge and add to the flavour.
Add flour, but not too much – if time allows it’s actually the best to cook the sauce down to thicken it naturally.
The secret of Yorkshire puddings
Finally – yorkies. It is invariably the cause of rift between me and my daughter at Christmas: I think no puddings with Christmas lunch, she thinks no Christmas lunch without puddings.
In case you favour her stand, I share my recipe. In volume, the same amount of flour and milk as an egg measures; increase amounts according to needs.
Does the mix need to stand? It doesn't, but to organise your cooking efficiently you might want to make the pudding mix in advance. In which case, keep it in the fridge.
I have no claims to Yorkshire pudding mastery; in fact mine usually look distinctly post-modern, crawling out of the tins towards the oven door, clearly seeking to escape.
Should you worry about the aesthetics (I don’t), cook them in oil – they’ll shape up better and rise like towers. If you cook them in beef drippings, they’ll sprawl desperately but will be incredibly tasty.
More roast beef recipes
This is a dish for a special occasion: fillet of beef stuffed with dried porcini mushrooms and roasted to a perfect medium rare.
Low temperature cooking brings the effects similar to sous-vide. Especially sirloin of beef roasted in a low oven benefits, because heat tends to dry it out.
A cheap but glorious cut, beef brisket, braised with onions, mushrooms and sweet wine.
More Sunday roast recipes
Rotisserie style chicken, roasted with potatoes arranged on the tray underneath, so they cook beautifully in chicken fat.
Shoulder of lamb, whole or half, is a comfort roast.
And the best pork roast is a braise: pork shoulder has just enough marbling not to dry out, that’s the cut to go for.